Publix Goes Au Naturale
By George Anderson
Publix Supermarkets announced it plans to open two new natural food stores under the company’s GreenWise banner in 2006.
Shoppers at the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain store are already familiar with GreenWise. The grocer has branded its natural foods sections in existing stores under that name and has a broad line of products sold with the GreenWise label.
Maria Brous, a spokesperson for Publix, said, “The format will be an extension of our offerings in the health and wellness categories. We have created a prototype to meet the needs of our customers who are interested in natural foods.”
The prevailing view is Publix is making this move to counter competition from the likes of Whole Foods and others targeting health-conscious consumers.
Gene Hoffman, president of Corporate Strategies International and RetailWire BrainTrust member, told The Ledger newspaper, “Publix has always been tuned in to the needs of its customers better than its chain-store competition.”
“They seem to have done an awfully good job of convincing people. They will do whatever these people want them to do,” said Mr. Hoffman. “Now they’re going to go into natural foods, which has been around for a decade or two. That is a natural extension of what the Publix philosophy has always been, which is to give customers what they want.”
The move to test a natural foods format follows the recent rollout of Publix Sabor, a format targeted to Latino consumers.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to Publix testing a natural foods store concept? What challenges, if any, will the company face in this area
that may be different than in its traditional grocery business? Do you expect to see other mainstream grocery businesses following suit? –
George Anderson – Moderator